Olympic leaders agree on independent drug-testing system

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LONDON (AP) — In a shake-up of the drug-testing system in sports, Olympic leaders agreed Saturday that testing should be independent of sports organizations and urged the World Anti-Doping Agency to take over the responsibility on a global level.

In a separate decision, the IOC said competitions run by international federations or national Olympic bodies must allow entry to athletes from all member countries and give them equal treatment, or else the event will not be given Olympic qualifying status. The move addresses the issue of Israeli athletes being denied entry to some countries.

Doping topped the agenda of the “Olympic Summit” convened in Lausanne, Switzerland, by IOC President Thomas Bach. The meeting was attended by members of the IOC’s rule-making executive board, and leaders of international federations and national Olympic committees.

The group “decided to make anti-doping testing independent from sports organizations,” the IOC said in a statement. “The summit requested WADA to study taking responsibility for testing as the global center of competence in anti-doping.”

The study will be carried out by a WADA working group that includes Olympic leaders and government representatives. No time frame was given.

The move is aimed at giving more credibility to drug-testing by taking it out of the hands of sports bodies and event organizers and turning it over to an independent body.

Federations have been viewed as partial in drug-testing and less willing to uncover cheating in their own sport. Critics say the current system has an inherent conflict of interest.

Putting the testing in independent hands would introduce more legitimacy to the system, the Olympic leaders believe.

Sebastian Coe, the recently elected president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, has called for an independent body to handle drug-testing in track and field. He was among those who attended Saturday’s summit.

WADA, which was set up in 1999 to oversee anti-doping efforts around the world, does not carry out its own testing. It accredits labs around the world, which analyze samples.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Montreal-based body — headed by IOC vice president Craig Reedie of Britain — would be willing to expand its role by taking over independent testing across the board.

Such a move would require a major change in funding. Money that federations and other bodies spend on testing would have to be transferred to WADA or any other independent body set up for the testing.

Under the proposal, while the testing itself would be handled independently, the disciplinary procedures and sanctioning would be done by the federations.

It also wasn’t clear how the new system would affect the testing program at the Olympic Games. Traditionally, the testing is run by the IOC and the local organizing committee.

On another issue, the IOC dealt with the discrimination toward athletes from certain countries, without mentioning Israel by name.

“The summit agreed that for all competitions taking place under the auspices of an IF or NOC or their continental or regional associations, it has to be ensured that all athletes from all their members can enter a country to compete and are treated equally,” the statement said.

In August, an Israeli badminton player was denied a visa to compete in the world championships in Indonesia until the last minute and after intervention by the international federation.

Last year, the IOC issued a warning to the world baseball and softball confederation after an Israeli delegate was barred from displaying his national flag at a meeting in Tunisia.

The IOC is also concerned that athletes from Kosovo — which the IOC formally recognized in December 2014 — could face difficulties in some countries.

Saturday’s summit also urged sports bodies to comply with standards of good governance, reviewed the progress in setting up a digital Olympic Channel and hailed the bidding process that brought in five candidate cities — Budapest, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome — for the 2024 Games.

Among those attending the meeting were Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti who heads the global association of national Olympic bodies; acting FIFA President Issa Hayatou; and the heads of the U.S., Russian and Chinese Olympic committees.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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